Bill Beamish’s Contributions to Lamprey Research and Recent Advances in the Field

  • Margaret F. Docker University of Windsor
Keywords: review, sex determination, statoliths, pheromones, reproductive endocrinology, phylogeny


Since his first lamprey paper in 1972, Bill Beamish has published more than 50 papers on numerous aspects of lamprey biology, studying several native lamprey species as well as the Great Lakes sea lamprey. Bill and his colleagues have contributed to our knowledge of the basic biology of larval lampreys (e.g., abundance, habitat, feeding, growth, and gonadogenesis), helped refine techniques to determine age in larvae (using statoliths, structures analogous to the teleost otolith), and studied the process of metamorphosis and the feeding and bioenergetics of juvenile (parasitic) lampreys. Current research continues to build on Bill’s contributions, and also makes many advances that were probably not even anticipated in 1972. This exciting current research includes: the use of high-resolution ultrasound to study gonadogenesis and evaluate sex ratio in live larval lampreys; the elucidation of some of the exogenous and endogenous triggers of metamorphosis; examination of the neuroendocrine control of reproduction and the role of unconventional sex steroids in lampreys; the discovery of migratory and sex pheromones and their potential use in sea lamprey control; the use of molecular markers to study lamprey mating systems and phylogeny; and the renewed interest in the conservation of native lampreys.